Feldman outlines seven approaches to motivation

Instinct Approaches

These entail biologically determined behaviors rather than those an individual has to attain either via formal or informal learning. Primarily, their drive emanates from instincts and cannot in any way thwarted via application of external or internal forces (Feldman, 2005). This is because their programming setting is inside them and involves both animals and human beings. For instance, attachment that exists between parents and babies, animals feeding their young ones or courting, which entails mating selection and pairing. The latter aspect regards mutual attraction, which exists amid a man and woman after certain biological development.
  1. Drive-Reduction Approaches

This perspective contends that, drives and needs normally motivate certain behaviors (Roets & Van, 2011). Hence, making individuals result to certain tasks prompted by strong urges meant to fulfill them, for instance, physiological needs (food, sex, water). The aim of these drives is to fulfill certain needs or deprivations and attain the intended or required homeostasis thus, aid in maintaining equilibrium (Feldman, 2005).

  1. Arousal Approaches

It entails maintenance of a certain level and activity of stimulation, which normally differs across individuals. In addition, it is evident that heightened arousal yields to a similar stimulation and vice versa (Roets & Van, 2011). Yerkes-Dodson and optimum theories contend that people mainly perform better under moderate arousal, which offers a similar stimulation (Roets & Van, 2011).

  1. Incentive Approaches

Incentive’s approach suggests that motivation descends from an individual’s urge or desire to attain and win certain rewards, which acts as the driving power where their timely realization brings the feeling of contentment or competence (Roets & Van, 2011).

  1. Cognitive Approaches

Mainly, relies on behaviors determined, by the way, a person thinks and not external influences like rewards or punishments (Feldman, 2005). Plans, attributions, and expectations usually regulate one’s behaviors, which renders one branded as dynamic, curious and always searching solutions meant for any prevailing problems (Roets & Van, 2011).

  1. Maslow’s Hierarchy:

This approach views motivation as a cluster of needs where their fulfillment follows a certain order as indicated,

  • Physiological
  • Safety
  • Love
  • Belongingness
  • Esteem
  • Self-actualization
  1. Motivation Behind Hunger and Eating

Its basis is about accepted social factors whose basis regards societal rules and conventions, which the majority deems is appropriate besides the comfort that emanates from food (Roets & Van, 2011).

Cognitive Approaches

Mental preparedness determines how one will undertake certain tasks despite his/her incapability (Vitiello, Greenfield, Munis & George, 2011). This also programs an individual’s attitude, which is essential in successful attainment of any task that may prove difficult. Success or victory regarding any venture usually comes from a person’s mind; owing to consistent thinking. Psychologists contend that one’s mind and positive attitude mainly “attracts” what he/she desires, which has prompted even doctors to employ it especially in medical fields. I have witnessed this especially during my exams and assignments that I have undertaken and emerged triumphantly (Vitiello, Greenfield, Munis & George, 2011). This entails going through the questions or the exam questions prior tackling them and figuring them in my mind as having tackled them successfully. This coupled with faith, which I usually have and apply, gives me inner strength needed in trying to tackle them while composed.

Why is cognitive theory a better explanation of motivation than Freud’s psychoanalysis?

Psychoanalysis primarily entails induced thoughts in an individual’s subconscious mind. This is via listening, interpretation of subjectivity and its unconscious origins where its materializing comprises of entertaining fantasies imposed on the conscious mind. Hence, giving rise to thoughts of attaining anything that one may desire. However, mostly this if not held for long usually fades from an individual’s mind owing to numerous thoughts, which one may entertain, coupled with those of failure or not attaining the intended target or goal(s). This is because of the threatening life predicaments that may interfere with the imparted pattern of thoughts and one starts thinking adversely, hence being short-lived and more like a dream than a reality. This approach has encountered numerous critics from numerous scientists like B.F Skinner who has termed it as subjective and unscientific. The power to pursue any dream or fulfill a certain accomplishment usually emanates from the results of manipulating one’s thoughts to the feeling of attaining the intended goals, hence lacking strong power or urge to pursue them. Conversely, cognitive theory is an intrinsic and strong urge from an individual’s mind to accomplish the intended goal (Vitiello, Greenfield, Munis & George, 2011). The power and drive emanate from a person’s mental desire concerning satisfaction, which will come from the fulfillment of a certain goal. These strong expectations mainly transform our behaviors, which from the outside they are desirable and lead to the attainment of the intended target. Additionally, the latter approach entails internally mental motivation coupled with the feeling of being triumphant once the mission is over, which is divergent to Psychoanalysis. Since, Psychoanalysis’ drive emanates from mere fantasies, which may at some instances fail to come to their full fruition. Cognitive theory, one feels is in control of the intended outcomes, which prompts one to depict certain behaviors and termed as determined or dynamic. Behaviors (desirable) in this sense, imply an action taken towards the attainment of the set goals, which is divergent to the act of entertaining mere fantasies.


Feldman, R. S. (2005). Essentials of understanding psychology. Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Roets, A., & Van Hiel, A. (2011). An Integrative Process Approach On Judgment And Decision Making: The Impact Of Arousal, Affect, Motivation, And Cognitive     Ability. Psychological Record, 61(3), 497-520.

Vitiello, V. E., Greenfield, D. B., Munis, P., & George, J. (2011). Cognitive Flexibility, Approaches to Learning, and Academic School Readiness in Head Start Preschool          Children. Early Education & Development, 22(3), 388-410.           doi:10.1080/10409289.2011.538366

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